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REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

By Adam F. Cohen

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

Ingenious.  Captivating.  Hysterical.  Thoroughly entertaining.  Those are just some of the adjectives which describe Mark Shanahan’s production of The 39 Steps playing at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken.

Ostensibly a thriller, in the hands of these four resourceful actors all but our protagonist Richard Hannay (Joe Delafield) play multiple characters in this adaption of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1935 film. The 39 Steps was originally a big, serious, movie about spies between the wars, dashing heroes and classy dames. There was gorgeous black-and-white Scottish and English scenery, and that tingling, suspenseful finale at the London Palladium.

In the hands of this nimble cast under the sterling direction of Mark Shanahan, one’s imagination must recreate the suspense elements like a train roof chase here portrayed gingerly stepping over steamer trunks.

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

The plot finds Richard Hannay (Joe Delafield), a debonair 37-year-old bachelor in London, bored one evening at the theater alone. A mysterious woman in black, Annabella Schmidt (Alycia Kunkle), fires a gun in the middle of a memory-artist’s act and asks for Richard’s help. Let me hide in your flat, she begs, presumably because he is a debonair 37-year-old bachelor without a date. She regales him about the spies pursuing her and hints at weaponry-related secrets that could threaten Britain’s security. Annabella is murdered in the night, and Richard must go on the run to find the leader of the spy ring and clear himself of any connection with Annabella’s death. Thus, the train and the ensuing chases.  Delafield is an affable lead - he preens, postures, and grows into a credible hero.

Richard encounters an extraordinary number of colorful people most played as Clown No. 1 and Clown No. 2, Zachary Fine and Evan Zes in over 100 roles. Their characters include a milkman, a newsboy, a cleaning woman, a train conductor, theater performers, politicians, secret agents, husband-and-wife Scottish hoteliers, traveling lingerie salesmen and a wide variety of law enforcement officials. Their brilliant quick-change artistry filled with clever costumes (Peter Fogel) and astute props (Emmett Grosland) including hats, clothing, wigs and accents in fractions of a second – sometimes mid-sentence.  Knuckle plays multiple female roles - garnering a German accent (channels Madeline Kahl in Blazing Saddles) and is a pleasant, ernest performance.

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Wide eyed Hitchcock fans will enjoy the numerous homage through out the script (Patrick Barlow) including a crop-dusting plane tries to run down our hero. The heroine (Alycia Kunkle) suffering from vertigo. The hotel desk with the sign saying, “Dial M for meal service.”

Shanahan’s assured direction – comes from having played the Hannay role on Broadway and directing the play through out the country.  Mile Square Theatre serves as a perfect location for this ingenious, crafty, irreverent production as the four actors earnestly try to tell the tale. Sit up close to the action and play along with the actors.  It’s high fun, witty, high-energy show that brews breezy holiday spirit and captivates the attention of kids of all ages.

The 39 Steps is on stage now through December 23rd. Mile Square Theatre is located at 1400 Clinton Street in Hoboken, New Jersey. Tickets are available online.

REVIEW: "The 39 Steps" at Mile Square Theatre

Photos by Joe Epstein

originally published: 2017-12-04 01:00:00

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​​​​​​​(HADDON TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The longest running musical in history is coming to The Ritz Theatre Company. The Fantasticks will run for three weekends from June 1st to June 16th. The musical features music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play The Romancers (Les Romanesques) by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love by pretending to feud.

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(RED BANK, NJ) -- Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, has announced a special Q&A with composer/lyricist Joe Iconis on Monday, June 4.  The event is part of First Monday Masters, Two River’s popular new series of  master classes led by artists affiliated with Two River Theater’s recent productions and current season.

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(FREEHOLD, NJ) -- Center Players Dessert Theater will present a free dramatic play reading of The Emperor’s New Duds, an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes” on Sunday, June 10th at 2:00pm at historic Oakley Farms, located at 189 Wemrock Road in Freehold.

Pioneer Productions Presents "Hair"

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(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Pioneer Productions will present Hair - The American Tribal Love Musical directed by Daniel Peter Vissers July 6-8 and 13-15 at The George Fry Center for the Arts at the Fair Lawn Community Center. 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the show’s debut on Broadway, and its themes of rebellion, activism and speaking truth to power have never resonated with audiences more. 

Event calendar
Sunday, May 27, 2018


John Eddie @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

NEW FOUND GLORY @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 3:30pm

THE BILSBY BROTHERS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

“It Might as Well be Swing” with vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 3:00pm

Upon A Burning Body, Volumes, The White Noise, Convictions @ The Stanhope House, Stanhope - 6:00pm


Turning Off the Morning News @ Berlind Theatre @ McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton - 2:00pm and 7:30pm

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